Food connects people. Yet often so little is known about the food supply chain. A recent awareness of the connection of the food and human trafficking has caused many to look at the food chain for ethically sourced food.
In 2015 the US State Department’s annual human trafficking report brought to light many concerns in the agricultural, fishing and aqua cultural fields. Food sources were such a concern that of the 48 areas highlighted for additional scrutiny, almost half of them were related to the food industry.
There has also been an increased awareness of human trafficking in restaurants and bars. From 2007 to 2016 Polaris analyzed 32,208 reports of human trafficking. About 1700 of these involved the restaurant industry. Many of them were men from Mexico and Central America with promises of a better life, then paid below minimum wage or under the industry standard. Many were unable to speak up or communicate regarding their circumstances because there was often a language barrier.
Additionally, those without food are more susceptible to human trafficking. About 6 million children in the US live with food insecurity--not knowing where the next meal will come from or having access to food regularly--while many more children in the world face famine and starvation. Whether in the US or abroad there is a clear link between lack of food and human trafficking. In either case, it comes down to someone taking advantage of another because, without food or means to pay for food, options are limited.
Food has become a way for predators to take advantage of others. Whether by enlisting a disadvantaged person in labor or using it to coerce them into other industries. Two weapons will help combat this type of human trafficking--knowledge and purchasing power. Learn where your favorite grocery store acquires its food. Educate yourself on the food chain. Know the Chain offers some great resources to buying ethically sourced food. Also, join the movement to eradicate global hunger and starvation by 2030 by participating in World Food Day this October 16th.
by Natasha Komen